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Just last night, when I went to boot my computer, it's started hanging at the BIOS screen.

It beeps once, loads the main page, then hangs at the "Testing Memory" line... it doesn't display the device's and doesn't go anywhere.

I haven't made any hardware changes for months and it hasn't been acting strangly until then. It shut down perfectly normally the time before.

It's a Gigabyte GA-965p-DS3 motherboard.

My initial suspicion is something to do with the CMOS battery. Is my thinking correct?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Likely one of these things is happening:

  • It's far fetched, but maybe something has modified your memory timings (which are stored in CMOS). Utilize any "Clear CMOS" jumpers on your board (or go into BIOS setup if you still can and revert to defaults) and retry.

  • Something might be conflicting with BIOS RAM detection. Rather unlikely since you say no hardware changes, but maybe a failing expansion card is causing it. Try removing all expansion cards (including video cards) and retry.

  • Slight chance that the BIOS is scanning the USB bus, and maybe the BIOS doesn't clear the screen (or tell you what is going on) while it is doing it. Remove any USB devices and retry.

  • The most likely culprit though, is that you actually have bad RAM. Probably only one of your modules is bad. Switch, reboot, repeat until you find the bad module.

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I have no idea why, but it was my iPod shuffle. I removed that and it worked perfectly. It's pretty slow getting through the post screen, but seems to be working fine. Thanks for your help. – Alastair Pitts Sep 6 '10 at 22:48

Your computer won't die when the CMOS battery is empty, it will just forget its settings; We can exclude this.

  • Can you somehow bypass this by hitting ESCAPE or ENTER to get past the test?

  • Can you enter the BIOS? If so, try to reset it to the fail-safe configuration.
    The alternative is to boot once without the CMOS battery. ;-)

The important things involved sorted by possibility at that moment are:

  • The Memory

    This is being checked, so it might be the main cause.
    In case that you have two of them inserted you could try one and then the other.

  • The CPU

    After months with a dusty fan, it could have had his time...

  • The power supply

    Does it give enough power to the computer?
    You didn't install a new video card so you might exclude this.

  • Everything in between

    Although a lot less likely, check for dust in the fans, leaking condensators, etc.

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I've got an 750W power supply. I'm running an nVidia 8800GTS, but this should be easily be handled by that power supply. – Alastair Pitts Sep 6 '10 at 0:26

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